Expat Issues

Send my kid to nursery in Spain? I must be mad!

I’d like to think that no parent in the world actually wants to send their child to nursery. I don’t mean that no parent thinks it’s a good idea for their kid to interact with other kids, learn how to paint using their finger, and pick up useful fighting techniques before they start the big school, but actually would chose playing with their own kids rather than having to send them into a class of snotty, uncontrollable, and future martial art masters.

Okay, I’m exaggerating slightly, but even though my son started nursery last week and he’s slowly getting used to it, I’d still rather have him at home making noise, picking my flowers out their pot, and trying to find every dangerous object in the house to see what he can do with it. Trouble is, I’m all for a good education and I know I have to let go.

Luckily my wife is off work so we’ve been able to put off sending our son to nursery for a couple of years. That dreaded moment came last week when we finally handed him over to a woman he’d never seen before (bad organisation) into a class of screaming, freaked out, petrified kids who were all wondering where their Mamas and Papas had gone.

Cars
Does everyone have a car like this? Photo by Valerie Everett

Of course I had to hold back the tears and show a brave face and all that for my wife. It was only an hour anyway. He went in crying, holding on to us, and reaching back, but when we picked him up he was happily playing on a giant plastic car. Happy days, I thought.

But as the week went on and the hours increased he began to realise he hadn’t just been sent off randomly to play for an hour. For the first three mornings he didn’t want to go in. Leaving him became worse, especially as I knew where I was taking him, but he still hadn’t cottoned on he’d be going back there, not until we got to the door anyway.

Continue reading “Send my kid to nursery in Spain? I must be mad!”

Expat Issues

Just how much better is NHS in Spain compared to private healthcare?

Finally A Novel Spain is back. After a crazy month of having a second child and moving house I’ve finally had a bit of time to write. This article on Expat Focus talks about the differences between having a baby via private healthcare, in our case Sanitas, to the Spanish NHS system.

Virgen de rocio
Not a bad place to have a baby…Virgen de Rocio, Sevilla. Photo by Tom Raftery

If you’d asked me before having kids which one I thought would be better, I’d have said private by a long shot, which was why we chose that route. But we were pleasantly surprised our second time round. The article is titled Hat’s off to Spain’s baby popping out team.

I’ll only be posting every two weeks for the foreseeable future. Life with two kids is pretty mental, which you’ll hear more about in my next blog.

Cheers. 

Expat Issues

Best Blogs about Spain: Getting homesick, Top Expat countries, and Madrid.

I’ve read some decent blogs over the last couple of weeks. Here are the main highlights. They are either expat or Spain related.

Homesick Spain
Wish I could just glide back sometimes. Photo by Chris JL

Do you get homesick?

I definitely do, but it’s more people sick, not sick of people, rather missing people like my family, mates, and even the milkman. The other day I wondered what would happen if there were milkmen in Sevilla; the milk would never reach most fridges, I’m sure. Anyway, here’s a blog on Never Trust a Jelly Fish about making choices and sacrifices and what it’s like to get homesick.

Top Countries for Expats

Do you reckon you are living in the top expat country? I’d definitely say no, Spain has a lot going for it, but I’m sure there are better places. Like where? I hear you ask. Well, check out this blog titled HSBC Top Countries for Expats, which, not surprisingly, has Switzerland high on it’s list. Are you in any of the top 5? Spain made 24th.

Visiting Madrid?

If so then check out this blog on Little Bird Around the World about A Visit to Madrid. It’s a useful guide to the museums, parks, and squares.

Expats and Dieters

Have a look at this amusing post by Brightoneagle about What expats and dieters have in common. I’m not a massive fan of diets, I try to eat well and do exercise, but I can definitely see where he’s coming from.

Can we?

Some might say so. Spain’s leftist party, Podemos, are definitely growing in numbers. Have a look at this article on Canada.com showing the Strength of Podemos. Before you start slagging me of about politics, I haven’t said I support the group, or despise the group, just that’s it’s a decent read.

That’s all for this week. Have you read anything decent recently?

Expat Focus blogs, Expat Issues

What have you learnt as an Expat parent?

Why do people stare at me so much? Photo by Morton 1905
Why do people stare at me so much?
Photo by Morton 1905

After surviving my first year as an expat Dad without too many major hiccups, I’d thought I’d share a few thoughts on what I’ve learnt so far. It’s been such a great year and an immense learning curve.

The article was posted this week on Expat Focus and is titled Five things I’ve learnt in my First Year as an Expat Dad. I talk about how life has changed, interfering Spanish grannies, how people stare, feeling more at home, and why I love being a Dad so much.

To have a look at my other articles for Expat Focus you can see my Columnist Page.

Annoying things in Spain, Culture Shock, Expat Issues

Do you get treated unfairly as a foreigner?

I’ve always wondered whether I do or not, but this summer I found out for sure. Straight from the bull’s mouth, as it were. It all happened in the exotic location of Benalmadena, Malaga.

It's actually got a pretty harbour! Photo by Julio Codesal
It’s actually got a pretty harbour!
Photo by Julio Codesal

It was our second day in the 4 star hotel-apartment as we came back after lunch to get out of the heat. When we turned up at the room the head maid was just going in (it helps to know we’d had a chat with her the day before in the corridor, all in Spanish, and the following conversation was also in Spanish).

“Oh,” she said, looking down at her list of rooms. “I didn’t realise you guys were in this room.”

“Yeah we are,” said my wife. Continue reading “Do you get treated unfairly as a foreigner?”

Expat Focus blogs, Expat Issues

Expat Focus: Does being an expat corrupt your mind?

How have you been corrupted? Photo by liquidnight
How have you been corrupted?
Photo by liquidnight

It does to me. Living abroad has affected my habits, personality, and morals in a number of ways. When I first arrived in Sevilla I was hell bent on learning as much as possible about Spain, its culture, and people. I certainly have done, but in the meantime I’ve even changed my own outlook on life, and started doing things that I never thought I would, and not all for good.

Sound familiar? Interested in reading more? Then have a look at my monthly column on Expat Focus titled How has living abroad corrupted your mind? In the article I focus on aspects such as being false, moaning, coffee, and how I speak. Hopefully you can relate.

Expat Focus is a great website and has loads of articles written by expats from all over the world. It’s worth subscribing for their free newsletter too. I’ll be writing for them every month so make sure you follow me if you’re interested in life as an expat in Spain.

Expat Issues, Great things about Spain

How has living in Spain changed you?

Are you an expat living in Spain? Have you changed in since being here? It’s hard to live in a country and not be influenced by the culture, people, and bizarre customs. Nine years living in Spain has definitely had a massive impact on my lifestyle and outlook on life, but why?

Patience is good. Photo by sleepymyf
Patience is good.
Photo by sleepymyf

Patiencia

This might be taking the whole ‘mañana mañana’ approach to the extreme, but I’ve learnt how to be more patient since living in Spain. That doesn’t mean that I’ve become lazy like the stereotype states. In fact, I find the majority of Spanish people to be quiet hard working (when they have a job, of course) apart from builders, who always seem to be on a break while scoffing their sandwiches wrapped up in foil, and anyone who works on Sevilla’s metro system, which is taking years to finish.

I often have to fight with my inner British voice, pushing me to get everything done as if the world is about to end; always in a rush, always a million things to do. But I’ve learnt to chill the hell out now and then, only now and then mind. Continue reading “How has living in Spain changed you?”

Expat Issues, Great things about Spain, Humour

How life changes when you’re an Expat Dad

I’m not ashamed to admit that I was terrified about becoming a Dad. First it was the famous ‘sleepless nights’ syndrome. Like most blokes I get grumpy if I don’t have my beauty sleep. I used to have visions of waking up on the last line of the metro with a lovely dribble stain on my jacket, or even dozing off in class to allow my students to cover my face in red board marker.

Boy or girl
How can you buy clothes for someone you have never seen?

Having the responsibility of looking after a baby boy who can only communicate through crying was a definite worry too. My biggest concern questions were: how are you supposed to bath a slippery baby? What about getting it dressed? And how do you change a nappy without getting splashed with wee and poop?

After nearly five months of being a Dad I have to say that all those worries seem like a distant memory. Sure, the first two weeks were mental. Neither of us slept much, but the responsibility of looking after our son gave us extra energy. I soon got the hang of bathing and getting my son dressed and, as of yet, no poop has met my clothing, wee has, several times, but no poop. Continue reading “How life changes when you’re an Expat Dad”

Culture Shock, Expat Issues, Seville

How can you have breakfast out every morning?

It’s not that I don’t like eating breakfast out. I’m all up for some churros now and then, a warm cup of coffee on a chilly January morning, and even a shot of anis after breakfast on a Sunday, but how Sevillanos, and some guiris, have breakfast out every morning is beyond me.

Busy bar in Seville
Room for a small one?
Photo by Katie G

When I was in my late teens growing up in London, I’d normally meet mates for a fry up to sooth a nasty hangover at the weekend. I used to love the occasion; chatting about the shenanigans of the previous night and normally trying to remember what had happened. It was fun, but I couldn’t do it every morning.

A few things bug me about having breakfast out in Seville. Firstly, the noise; it’s never quiet in a café. I’ve grown to hate the sound of smashing china plates, and knives and forks splattering in the tray. Waiters shouting orders does my head in too. Sometimes the volume of locals speaking is so loud that you can’t hear the person in front talking. If I’m not properly awake when I go in the café, I sure am when I leave. Continue reading “How can you have breakfast out every morning?”